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MSU still trying to find its passing rhythm


Danny P Smith



STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen is still trying to get his team''s passing game where it needs to be after four games. 


Through spring practice, offseason workouts, preseason drills and four regular-season games in Mullen''s spread offense, the Bulldogs have yet to click on all cylinders. 


Mullen knew teaching the passing game at MSU wouldn''t be easy and didn''t expect his quarterbacks to learn the system overnight. 


"Developing a passing game is one of the hardest things to do," Mullen said Monday. "You turn on football on Sundays and you (see NFL teams) are still trying to develop quarterbacks and passing games. 


"It takes time for our quarterbacks because it''s their first time running the offense. Every week there are scenarios, situations, and looks that come up where it''s really their first time seeing it in game action. We only get these guys for a short period of time (in college)." 


Mullen said Brett Favre is an exception because he has been around football long enough with the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, and the Minnesota Vikings to know what to look for and how to do things. 


Mullen said MSU''s quarterbacks don''t have enough experience dealing with game situations. 


"We''re going to try to put them in as much in practice, but until you do it in a game, you don''t get that actual true reaction sometimes," Mullen said. 


MSU senior quarterback Tyson Lee, of Columbus, said he tries to identify strengths of a defense through film study, but knows that doesn''t reveal everything. 


"Every game (defenses) are going to bring things you''ve never seen before and you just have to adjust on the go," Lee said. 


Against LSU, Lee had a season-high in attempts (38), completions (15), and passing yards (172). He was more comfortable after taking most of the snaps Saturday in MSU''s 30-26 loss to LSU. 


"I was really able to create some rhythm, and it served as a little bit of motivation for me throughout the game," Lee said. "I was getting a feel for what (LSU was) doing because you were out there more. When I got out on the field and got things going, it game some momentum going into certain drives." 


Lee also was bothered that he threw a career-high three interceptions against the Tigers. 


"I just need to work on the little things," Lee said. "There were a few plays here and a few plays there. (If I) make those it''s a different ballgame. We watch film and it hurts to see because there are minor things that turn out to be major things." 




Another ranked visitor 


Georgia Tech''s 24-7 victory Saturday against then-No. 22 North Carolina 24-7 helped it jump back into The Associated Press poll at No. 25. 


The Yellow Jackets'' move means MSU will play host to its second ranked opponent in as many weeks at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (Comcast). 


Georgia Tech''s triple-option attack primarily out of a wishbone set makes it difficult to prepare for in a short amount of time. 


The Yellow Jackets are attempting to lead the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing for the third consecutive season. After four games, Georgia Tech leads the league and ranks fourth nationally in that category with 262 yards per game rushing. 


"They have a great system, and they execute their system very well," Mullen said. "They like to control the tempo of the game." 


Mullen is looking for the same response from the fans that the Bulldogs have received in the first two home games. MSU set two of the top 10 largest attendance figures in school history against Jackson State (54,232, third largest) and against LSU (53,612, sixth largest). 


"Our team plays feeds off the energy and emotion of our student body and our crowd who is there supporting us," Mullen said. "There''s a lot that can pick you up. It''s amazing how much a crowd can sway the momentum during the course of the game." 




Hungry Bulldogs 


Mullen said his squad returned to practice Sunday focused on getting better. 


Mullen said the loss to LSU made his players and coaches "hungry to get back out on the field." He was pleased with the hard work and focus of the workout. 


MSU senior linebacker Jamar Chaney wished the Georgia Tech was being played sooner than Saturday. 


"I wish we were playing today because I can''t get the feeling of that (LSU) loss out of me right now," Chaney said. 




Dixon''s streak 


Along with all of the school records senior tailback Anthony Dixon has or is about to set, he has been doing so without turning the ball over. 


Dixon hasn''t fumbled the football since the regular-season finale against the University of Mississippi in 2007, a streak of 16 games. 


Since his last fumble, Dixon has rushed 291 times and caught 28 passes, or 319 touches. 




No significant injuries 


Mullen said there were no injuries that should keep players out of the game this week. 


Freshman wide receiver Brandon Heavens injured a toe injury against LSU, but the trainers told Mullen he''d be ready to play against Georgia Tech. 




Houston time on hold 


The starting time for the MSU-Houston game Oct. 10 will be announced early next week. 


The six-day selection option has been taken for television to select which game it wants to broadcast for that weekend. 


ESPN (11:30 a.m.), SEC Network (11:21 a.m.), ESPNU (11:30 a.m.), and CBS (2:30 p.m.) have been listed as possible slots for the game. 




MSU adds teams to schedule 


The athletic department announced Monday the addition of Bowling Green, Louisiana Tech, and Troy University to upcoming football schedules. 


MSU will play host to Bowling Green in 2013 and will pay a guaranteed $750,000 buyout. 


Louisiana Tech will visit Starkville in 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2017. The Bulldogs will travel to Ruston, La., in 2016. 


MSU will travel to Troy 2012 and play host to the Trojans in 2013 and 2015.



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